BES 6001 is an environmental and sustainability standard, developed by the BRE, which provides a framework for assessing the responsible sourcing of products.

Originally developed specifically for construction products, it has gone on to be adapted for, and used by, other industries. This post focuses on its use in construction.

There can be a perception that it is the manufacturer or organisation who is certified under BES 6001, but in fact it is products that carry the certification. A manufacturer can therefore offer some products that have BES 6001 certification and others that don’t, so clear communication between manufacturers and specifiers is required to avoid confusion.

Why is BES 6001 responsible sourcing certification needed?

Constructing and maintaining our built environment consumes significant quantities of natural resources. Pressure on those resources is already high, and is only increasing as populations around the globe grow and become more urbanised.

Greater demand for resources makes it even more important to procure them responsibly. Natural resources come from all over the globe, including from communities that are not protected as we would hope or expect, and where people are at risk of exploitation or harm.

For UK construction professionals, having confidence in construction products means going beyond the manufacturer offering a particular product. Responsible sourcing certification shows that the manufacturer understands their supply chain and knows the origin of the materials they’re using, thereby supporting a more sustainable approach to material use.

While BES 6001 certification has typically allowed projects to claim more credits in schemes like BREEAM or LEED, responsible sourcing has taken on a much deeper and more fundamental importance. Transparency is core to ethical business practices, and responsible organisations are actively seeking to measure themselves against available benchmarks.

How does BES 6001 measure responsible sourcing?

Assessment and certification under BES 6001 are carried out by an independent third party, and the standard’s requirements span three different areas. Two of those areas relate to the management practices of the manufacturer, with the third relating to the provenance of the materials used in the product manufacture.

  • Organisational management.
  • Management of sustainable development.
  • Supply chain management.

‘Organisational management’ deals with how the company operates. It starts with having a responsible sourcing policy, and demonstrating legal compliance (locally, nationally and internationally). Management systems must be in place for quality and managing suppliers.

Meanwhile, ‘supply chain management’ looks at material traceability (through ISO 9001 certification, or another full chain of custody scheme), environmental management systems (certified to ISO 14001), and documented health and safety management systems.

What sustainable development criteria does BES 6001 cover?

‘Management of sustainable development’ covers a variety of social, economic and environmental factors. Manufacturers have to demonstrate they have policies and targets in place for each, report results accordingly, and that third parties assess the manufacturer’s performance.

Energy and resource use, waste management and greenhouse gas emissions all fall within this sustainable development area, as do ecotoxicity and water abstraction. Life cycle assessment, transport impacts and business ethics are also covered.

Earlier in this post we talked about the potential international impacts of responsible sourcing (or a lack of it), but BES 6001 also looks at social impact on the local scale. Requirements for managing sustainable development cover employment and skills, and local community engagement.

Specifying construction products that are responsibly sourced therefore has a much wider range of positive impacts than might be first expected.

About Polyfoam XPS and BES 6001

Polyfoam XPS has BES 6001 certification for products in our Floorboard, Roofboard and Laminating Board range. Supporting that certification, we operate the following.

  • ISO 9001-certified quality management system.
  • ISO 14001-certified environmental management system.
  • ISO 45001-certified health and safety management system.
  • ISO 50001-certified energy management system

All of our certificates are available from the technical support page of our website. Alternatively, you can contact us about how our products can help achieve your project’s responsible sourcing goals.